A Thanksgiving Hero – Louis Zamperini

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my sweet sister in law Samantha (yep!  I’m lucky enough to have ANOTHER sister!) came up with a Hollister family tradition – The Thanksgiving Hero.  On Thanksgiving we all choose an American hero that has inspired us and we share it with the rest of the family.  I love traditions!

This year, my hero is Louis Zamperini.

I first heard of Zamperini a couple of years ago when I was visiting my family in Georgia.  We all went to church one Sunday morning and the sermon was about forgiveness.  They referred to Zamperini’s story as the ultimate example of forgiveness.

Untamable as a young boy, he harnessed that energy to become an olympic runner.


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WWII began and he joined the Air Force.


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During an American raid over Japanese territory, his plane was shot down and they crashed in the Pacific.  He and 2 other crew members survived the crash but spent 47 days in a life raft being circled by sharks.  They were finally rescued but by the Japanese, and they were imprisoned for the next 2 years in the most brutal Japanese POW camps.  Because of Louis’s fame as an Olympic athlete, a psychotic guard, known as “The Bird”, took interest in Louis and constantly tormented him.  One example: already sick and weak, Louis was forced to hold a log above his head for 37 minutes and it ended with the Bird punching him in the stomach.

The war finally ended, Louis went home and began suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder.  His wife wouldn’t give up on him and encouraged him to go to meetings held by Billy Graham (an evangelical Christian).  Louis became a born again Christian and then began a career as an inspirational speaker – forgiveness being his favorite theme.  He went back to Japan and met with some of the POW camp guards and forgave them.  He tried to meet with The Bird later in life but the Bird refused the meeting.  So he wrote him a letter of forgiveness.

As the pastor at church began to read Louis’s letter, he stopped and said, “I think it would be better to hear this from Louis himself.”  I couldn’t believe it!  Right before my eyes, this man, 94 (at the time), who endured and overcame so much, walked out on the stage, stood in front of us and read the letter.  He brought down the house and everyone was in tears.  His story changed me forever.

The book about his life, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, has been on my book list forever.  Fortunately, my book club chose this book last month and I finally got the chance to read it.  All I have to say is that I think everyone should read this book.


Buy the book at Nantucket Bookworks!

Unbroken is currently being made into a movie directed by Angelina Jolie.  It will be released Christmas Day 2014 and I can’t wait to see it!


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Publicity stills photography on the set of NBC Universal's movie 'Unbroken'Photo Credit

Louis is a true American hero.  For me, his story is a reminder to me to preserver no matter what and that I shouldn’t complain about anything.  Ever.  Life may have its ups and downs but I’ve been extremely blessed.  Thank you to Louis for sharing his story and inspiring me.

And thank you Samanth for starting this awesome tradition!

Well, that’s it for this year’s Thanksgiving Hero! Who would yours be?

Book Club – Night Film Review and October Pick

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 8.39.43 PMAt the end of last month, I declared my very first “Tuesdays With Tim Book Club Pick” as Marisha Pessl’s: Night Film.

I was really excited about this book because of all the press it was getting.  Well, I was not disappointed.  I loved it!

Here is the publisher’s description:

A page-turning thriller for readers of Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Stieg Larsson,Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy—the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
 For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
 Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

 Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.

The number one thing I loved about this book is the character of Cordova: the fictional and legendary film director.  The idea of this elusive, creepy director who no one knows anything about was an ingenious creation by author, Marisha Pessl.  Especially because he is not a main character in the book.  Just the idea of him is.  In this day and age, people are hash tagging, tweeting and pinning to be known and discovered, but not Cordova.  Who is this man? What is he after? Is he evil? Misunderstood? 

Pessl spent a long time with this book (almost 10 years), but also with the world she built within its pages.  I love when authors make worlds so believable that you almost wonder if there really is a Cordova out there somewhere.  She makes the unbelievable, entertaining but also credible! She created this world by designing movie posters for each of Cordova’s films, previews for these films and also by adding screen shots of fake internet sites within the book.  It’s like a children’s book complete with pictures for adults.  It really adds to the reading experience!

There really isn’t much more I can say about this book without spoiling it, so I urge you to try it and you will get lost in the world of Cordova!

Today is the first day of October so my next book club pick is by the King of scary himself: Stephen King.

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Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and his brand new novel is the sequel to his 1977 classic: The Shining!  Do you remember it?  Whatever happened to the little boy with telepathic gifts at the Overlook Hotel?  Read it and give yourself a good scare this month of October just in time for Halloween!  And if you need a costume idea for Halloween, check out my post about Halloween Costume Inspiration.

Happy October! Happy Reading! and See you on Tuesdays!


13 Books for 2013

I have a secret!  I am kind of a nerd.

(Maybe that’s not a secret!)

But I am not ashamed to say that “I LOVE TO READ!”  I may surround myself with hip and cool people like the Milly & Grace Girls, but I am a bookworm at heart and there is nothing like sitting down with a new book to read.


My friends always call to ask for book recommendations, but since I have moved to Nantucket, I haven’t had as much time to read as I would like.  However, I still have a list of books a mile long I can’t wait to read this year!

So, I present to you “TUESDAY’S WITH TIM’S – 13 Books for 2013”


Some of these were published earlier this year, some are coming soon, and one on the list I love to re-read every year.  Of the 13, I would like to highlight four I am especially excited to crack open.

1.  INFERNO by, Dan Brown

Most of us have heard of a book called The Da Vinci Code.  I remember reading this book in college, frantically searching the internet for a picture of The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa to see what Dan Brown was referring to.  Well, he is back with a new book all about Dante’s literary classic, Inferno.  I love Dan Brown novels because I always end up learning the most random facts and no one does suspense quite like him.  I am sure Inferno will be just as good as his previous books and that I will be on the edge of my seat, biting my nails as the pages fly by.


2. AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by, Khaled Hosseini

Grab a box of kleenex because the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns returns with a brand new book this year.  I have been hearing such great things about it and I can’t wait to read it.  I might save it when I need a good cry though, because Hosseini knows how to make you care about his characters and pull on your heart strings.


3. ALLEGIANT by, Veronica Roth

Young adult fiction has produced some entertaining works over the last couple of years and one of these is The Divergent Trilogy, which is coming to an end with the final book in the series this October.  Similar to The Hunger Games with it’s theme, the series is about a dystopian society that is divided into five factions, each one meant to uphold a particular virtue of humanity…  I am on pins and needles waiting to see how it all ends!  Pick up the first in the series, Divergent and its sequel Insurgent and you will be in line at your nearest bookstore to get Allegiant as quick as you can!


4. 11/22/63 by,  Stephen King

This book was released in 2011 and it has become one of my all time favorites for many reasons.  First, I LOVE STEPHEN KING!  In fifth grade, I was almost sent home from my parochial school for reading King’s 1000 page tome, IT. So, I have been a fan for years!!  Second, I was a history major in college and I have many historical events that interest me.  I will read anything about the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and the JFK assassination.  This book is about going back in time to stop the JFK assassination, which leads me to the main reason I obsessively love this book.  My all time favorite plot in fictional novels revolves around time travel.  I love trying to wrap my mind around time travel and how it would all work!  So I have read this book three times already, plan to read it once every year, and strongly recommend it!  I know some people think Stephen King only writes horror, but this book isn’t scary.  It’s a great story, with great characters and a fantastic premise. So, if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your 2013 TO-READ list!


What books are you excited to read this year?   Is anyone else excited about any of the books on this list?  Has anyone read any of them yet?  If you find yourself on Nantucket this summer, stop by my favorite island bookstore: Mitchell’s Book Corner to find these books and many others!

(Thank you to James Scheurell for taking the photos ;)

Thomas Jefferson said it best, “I cannot live without books!”

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See you next Tuesday!